The 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) Caisson Platoon helps conduct Military Funeral Honors with Funeral Escort for U.S. Army Master Sgt. Carl Lindquist in Section 55 of Arlington National Cemetery

The 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) Caisson Platoon helps conduct Military Funeral Honors with Funeral Escort for U.S. Army Master Sgt. Carl Lindquist in Section 55 of Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery conducts thousands of military funerals every year. It’s one of the few cemeteries that provides graveside burials with full military funeral honors and escort.

From the military band to the horses who pull the wheeled caisson, service members are stationed in the capital region specifically to carry out this sacred mission and honor their fellow service members.

Funerals are conducted by ceremonial units for all branches of the military. For the Army, members of the U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own” and the 3rd Infantry Regiment “The Old Guard” join us to talk about their jobs and how their contributions make a lasting impression.

Produced by Victoria Chamberlin

Guests

  • Master Sgt. Christopher Branagan Public Affairs NCOIC, The U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own"
  • Staff Sgt. Adrienne Doctor Bugler, Ceremonial Band, The U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own"
  • Spc. Rachel Nelson Caisson Platoon, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment "The Old Guard," The U.S. Army
  • 1st Lt. Cody Becker Platoon Leader, Presidential Salute Battery, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment "The Old Guard," U.S. Army

Transcript

  • 12:20:19

    KOJO NNAMDIWelcome back. Arlington National Cemetery conducts thousands of military funerals every year. It's one of the few cemeteries in the nation that provides graveside burials with full military funeral honors and escort. Service members are stationed in the capitol region to complete this important mission to honor their fellow service members. The men and women who carry out these duties at Arlington National Cemetery are also our neighbors and friends. Joining me in studio is Master Sgt. Chris Branagan, Public Affairs Officer with the U.S. Army Band, Pershing's Own. Master Sgt. Branagan, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:20:56

    CHRISTOPHER BRANAGANIt's a pleasure to be here.

  • 12:20:57

    NNAMDIStaff Sgt. Adrienne Doctor is a bugler with the U.S. Army Band Pershing's Own. Staff Sgt. Doctor, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:21:05

    ADRIENNE DOCTORIt's an honor to be here, sir.

  • 12:21:06

    NNAMDI1st Lieutenant Cody Becker is a platoon leader of the Presidential Salute Battery with The Old Guard. Lt. Becker, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:21:13

    CODY BECKERThanks for having me.

  • 12:21:14

    NNAMDIAnd Specialist Rachel Nelson is a caisson soldier with The Old Guard. Specialist Nelson, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:21:21

    RACHEL NELSONYes, sir. Thank you for having me.

  • 12:21:22

    NNAMDIAgain, you can join the conversation. Give us a call, 800-433-8850. Have you attended a military funeral? What did it mean to your family? Send us a Tweet @kojoshow, email to kojo@wamu.org or you can go to our website kojoshow.org and join the conversation there. Sgt. Branagan, dozens of funerals happen at Arlington each day. What types of funerals, and what are the differences between them?

  • 12:21:44

    BRANAGANWell, basically, there are three types of funerals that are supported by The Old Guard and the Army Band in Arlington Cemetery. And, essentially, those three categories are military funerals with honors, military funeral honors with escort and then dependent honors. And the Army Band is responsible for the military funeral honors and the funeral honors with escort.

  • 12:22:06

    BRANAGANAnd, essentially, there are four common characteristics for each of those types. That's with our colleagues from The Old Guard making up a casket team, a firing party who are responsible for the iconic 21-gun salute, a bugler from Pershing’s Own to play Taps, and then a team to fold the flag to present to the family at the end of the service.

  • 12:22:25

    BRANAGANNow, for the funeral honors with escort, we basically augment that group with a marching element, the Honor Guard platoon members, and then a band, which you would expect to be characterized as a traditional military marching band. The size of the escort is based on the rank of the service member. And, basically, between those two funerals we further divide them into services that have a religious ceremony attached to them, which take place at either the Old Post Chapel, historically known as Fort Myer, official known as Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, or a second memorial chapel that we have right there on post.

  • 12:23:01

    BRANAGANAnd, you know, the Old Post Chapel is this really beautiful, picturesque building that is literally adjacent to the gates of the Arlington National Cemetery. And, typically, what happens is that the band in the formation for a funeral honor with escort will assemble right in front of the chapel. And as family arrives with the casket in a hearse, the band performs a hymn as the casket is moved from the hearse into the chapel for the religious ceremony, religious service. We stand by outside while that is taking place.

  • 12:23:32

    BRANAGANAnd then at the conclusion of that service, we'll play as the casket is brought back out, the flag-draped casket, and is then loaded onto the caisson. And from there, it's a very sort of solemn processional from the chapel to the gravesite, which is predetermined by Arlington Cemetery. And that starts on the sort of west end of Arlington in a very old section, where there are a lot of Civil War-era gravestones. And then we process through Arlington Cemetery, as far as, you know, Section 60 and the eastern edges of the property that go right up to Highway 110 and the Pentagon.

  • 12:24:09

    BRANAGANAnd, you know, what is one of the most interesting aspects to me of Arlington Cemetery is that here's this large piece of land that's right in the middle of metropolitan Washington D.C. And because of how it's situated on top of Arlington Ridge and then it descends down towards the Potomac, you're shielded by all these beautiful, old-growth trees. And, occasionally, if you find yourself on a rise, you might see the Capitol dome or the Washington Monument in the distance.

  • 12:24:31

    BRANAGANBut, generally speaking, it's a very peaceful and really beautiful place to be, and a place that the staff of Arlington Cemetery do such an amazing job of making sure all of these funerals are executed flawlessly. It's a pretty tremendous place to work on a daily basis.

  • 12:24:49

    NNAMDIYou represent the Army Band, which leads the funeral procession. How do you get into this prestigious group?

  • 12:24:54

    BRANAGANWell, our mission is to provide musical support to the leadership of the U.S., which includes the Army and Department of Defense and all branches of government. It can sometimes be a high-pressure job, and so we seek out the best musicians to perform with the band. In a nutshell, to get into the band we hold a national audition that is advertised across the country to look for the best players.

  • 12:25:21

    BRANAGANPlayers come and audition for a slot in the band before joining the Army. And once we're here, it's a permanent duty assignment, so we have specialists in their field that have graduated from some of the country's leading music schools, like the Juilliard School and Northwestern University and other prestigious music schools. I don't know, perhaps Sgt. Doctor would like to talk a little bit about her experience getting into the band.

  • 12:25:43

    DOCTORYeah. So, I got my undergraduate Master's Degrees in music from the University of Cincinnati. And I auditioned back in 2014 and just prepared all the excerpts that were expected of me. And you're up against a large crowd of other trumpet players. And it's just a really huge honor to get a spot in one of the premier bands in this area. So, it's really a coveted position, and it's considered a really tremendous honor.

  • 12:26:15

    NNAMDIClearly, if I was in the service, I wouldn't be able to get into the band. (laugh) Specialist Nelson, you are part of another unique platoon that rides and maintains horses and equipment that pull the deceased to their final resting place. What does a typical day look like for someone in the caisson platoon?

  • 12:26:31

    NELSONYes, sir. So, it depends whether or not you're riding the cemetery, or if you're actually in the stables cleaning stalls and doing barn maintenance and tack maintenance. So, if you're riding in the cemetery, your morning actually starts at 4:30. So, we pull the horses out of their stalls. We tie them up, actually, in the truss places. And then we dry groom them, we pick their hooves, we brush their tails.

  • 12:26:56

    NELSONAnd then from there -- so, we have two squads that'll actually go out into the cemetery. We have a black squad, and then we have a gray squad. So, gray horses will actually start first at 4:30 in the washroom, for about an hour. And then, as this is happening, the black squad will actually shine their brass in the tack rooms. And there's about 350 pieces of brass in the tack rooms on the saddles and on the bridles that you actually have to shine. And it takes about an hour to do that. And then when that's happening, roughly around 5:30 when the gray horses are done, then the black squad will actually go in there and wash their horses.

  • 12:27:32

    NNAMDIWe asked before the show to test the mics about what people had for breakfast. My question to you is, when do you have breakfast? (laugh)

  • 12:27:40

    NELSONSo, after the horses are being done, washed and then you tack them up, roughly around 6:00 you have between 6:30 to 7:15 to actually eat breakfast and do your uniforms, get dressed, check to make sure all your tack is good. And then from there you have to hook up the horses from the wagon, and then -- yeah.

  • 12:28:01

    NNAMDIMaybe. (laugh) You enlisted into the Army as a military vehicle driver. Where did you learn to care for the horses?

  • 12:28:08

    NELSONSo, I'm originally from Oregon, and my father's mother, my grandmother actually had horses. So, I kind of grew up around horses, loving on them, taking care of them a little bit. And then I did a couple horse lessons when I was older. But then when I got into middle school and high school, I actually did sports.

  • 12:28:26

    NNAMDILt. Becker, for funerals of generals, admirals and the like, a cannon battery team fires the 21-gun salute from a 75 millimeter antitank cannon. Who are these soldiers?

  • 12:28:38

    BECKERSo, these soldiers are infantrymen. They enlisted in the Army as infantrymen, and then during basic training, we're assigned 11 Charlie roles, 11 Charlie, in the Army, means infantry and mortarmen. So, they get trained on not only regular dismount infantry tasks, but also how to use a mortar system. And then when they get assigned to The Old Guard, all 11 Charlies, so infantry, mortarmen get sent to the Presidential Salute Battery. And from there, we train them how to march, how to use our ceremonial cannons, in addition to their infantry and mortarman tasks.

  • 12:29:15

    NNAMDIHow often does the battery practice?

  • 12:29:19

    BECKERWe have training every Tuesday and Thursday, where they're firing the rounds that they would use during a ceremony. And then besides doing actual live fires, they're in the bay constantly, daily, going through dry fires, drills, practicing marching. These guys have honed their skills a lot and stay on top of it daily to stay proficient.

  • 12:29:43

    NNAMDIOnto the phones, here's Kathy in Arlington, Virginia. Kathy, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:29:49

    KATHYHi. Yes, my father passed away last year. We had a service earlier this year. We're in Section 83, and it was just an amazing service for him. He was a Navy commander and we had family and friends from around the country come in. And it was just such an amazing service, respectful and dignified and just really lovely.

  • 12:30:15

    NNAMDIThank you very much for sharing your story with us. On to Virginia, who is in Columbia, Maryland. Virginia, your turn.

  • 12:30:22

    VIRGINIAGood afternoon. My father's buried in Arlington. He was wounded in World War II and served in the Reserves afterwards. He died in '78, and he was buried in Arlington. And, I remember, we had the full military funeral. I don't remember enough about it, (laugh) because I was crying too hard, but I do remember it was a beautiful service. And I think it was the Purple Heart people who came over to us. And I don't remember what they said, but I just remember thinking it was a beautiful service.

  • 12:31:00

    VIRGINIAWe did not have the church service. We had the graveside burial. And I know my dad would've loved it, and I know I felt so grateful to the folks that were there. And I do remember (laugh) the gun salute, and jumping. (laugh) But we were warned before they started. And I just -- Dad used to take us to see the horses. We'd go over to Fort Myer to the Officers Club for dinner, and then he'd take us into the stables to see the horses.

  • 12:31:33

    VIRGINIAAnd I was always so charmed and remember seeing a gift from Austria was a Lipizzan stallion, and being thrilled out of my mind. (laugh) And I remember they're being always so beautifully groomed.

  • 12:31:50

    NNAMDI(overlapping) Very, very fond memories for you, Virginia. One of the reasons we wanted to do this broadcast is we wanted people to meet just a few of the people behind these ceremonies that they find so moving, and in your case and so many others, so memorable. So, thank you for sharing that with us. And speaking of the salute, Scott emails: why 21 guns? Why not 20 or 22?

  • 12:32:13

    BECKERSo, the 21-gun salute history started around the 14th century. It started with ships firing to signal to the coast that they were coming. And it started off with seven-gun salute, and they would have three ships fire the seven-gun salute, so it added up to 21. But it dates back very far and our 21-gun salute is for presidents, president elects and former presidents for their arrivals, departures and also state funerals, or if any of these individuals pass. And then we also fire for generals and admirals in the Army, Navy and Marine Corps, Air Force. And all those rounds are fired in odd numbers, based on rank.

  • 12:33:07

    NNAMDIOn now to Judy in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Judy, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:33:12

    JUDYThank you so much. I was the guest at a funeral and what struck me and has stayed with me for years is that when the bugler played, Taps was not -- the music was not aimed toward the mourners, but off over the cemetery itself. And it was as if he was playing to every person who had died and was buried there.

  • 12:33:35

    JUDYAnd the other thing that struck me was, after this beautiful, precise folding of the flag, the person who presented it to the family first spoke to the group, and then knelt in front of the family and very quietly, so that we couldn't hear, spoke privately to that mother and grown daughters. And they were -- I'm sorry, the wife and the grown daughters. And it went from being military to being very private and personal, and a funeral, rather than just the military. So, it was a juxtaposition of the sounds and the sights and the things that were public and the things that were private and intimate. And I will never forget it.

  • 12:34:19

    NNAMDIThank you very much for sharing your story with us, Judy. Sgt. Doctor, the sound of Taps from a bugle is one of the more recognizable elements of the military funeral, along with the folded U.S. flag. What goes through your mind when you play Taps, and how do you stay focused?

  • 12:34:33

    DOCTORYeah, so, every time I play Taps, my top priority is just sounding as good as possible every single time. Even though I play Taps very frequently, it's important to remember that for any given service, my Taps is the one time that that family might hear it for their loved one. So, I have to prevent myself from getting complacent and remember that this is a one-time thing for that family.

  • 12:35:00

    DOCTORAnd it could be a tremendous amount of pressure, certainly, and it takes a tremendous amount of focus to be able to play just with the utmost of dignity, precision and musicality every single time. Honestly, I get nervous just about every single time I play Taps, even if it's the tenth time that day.

  • 12:35:15

    NNAMDILike I do every day on this radio show, I guess. (laugh)

  • 12:35:17

    DOCTORI bet. But yeah, I mean, every soldier has a story. They have family that they leave behind. And when I'm playing, I think about that soldier and their family, and just make sure that I'm doing my job to the best of my ability in honoring their service.

  • 12:35:33

    NNAMDIIs there a particular mission that stands out in your mind?

  • 12:35:37

    DOCTORYes, sir. Actually, so, in my free time, I volunteer for a hospice center. And I spend time with individuals that are nearing the end of their lives and assist their caregivers. And the hospice center knows that I am a musician. And, on one occasion, the volunteer coordinator contacted me and asked if I could play Happy Birthday for a gentleman for his 99th birthday.

  • 12:36:02

    DOCTORAnd so I went to his house, and I played Happy Birthday for him. And I also found out while I was there that he was actually a retired Major General from the Army. And I played other recognizable marches. And he had a difficult time communicating, but every time I played a march that he recognized, he would just light up. His feet would be bouncing around. And that definitely spoke to the power of music.

  • 12:36:28

    DOCTORBut, anyway, fast forward a couple years, and I was assigned to play Taps at a Major General's funeral. And this is kind of a rare occasion for myself, since I'm still fairly new to the band. Typically, for funerals of Major Generals, or any General officer, a more experienced bugler might be tasked with playing. And this was only my second time doing this since I had arrived at the band, and there are over 30 trumpet players in the unit.

  • 12:36:58

    DOCTORAnd any time I get assigned to a funeral, I like to look up the name of the individual for whom I'm playing. So, it reminds me that this is a one-time thing for them and their family. And, sure enough, I looked up the name, and it was that gentleman that I had met a couple years prior and played Happy Birthday for. So, it was a very serendipitous moment for me, and it was really very special that I was able to play for somebody that I had met.

  • 12:37:28

    NNAMDIA very touching coincidence, as a matter of fact. We're going to take a short break. When we come back, we will continue this conversation about the honor and hard work behind military funerals. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 12:38:24

    NNAMDIWelcome back. We're talking about the hard work that goes into military funerals at Arlington National Cemetery with Master Sgt. Chris Branagan, Public Affairs Officer with the U.S. Army Band Pershing's Own. Staff Sgt. Adrienne Doctor is a bugler with the U.S. Army Band Pershing's Own. 1st Lieutenant Cody Becker is a platoon leader with the Presidential Salute Battery "The Old Guard." And Specialist Rachel Nelson is a caisson soldier with "The Old Guard." Specialist Nelson, what is the riderless horse, and why is it significant in a military funeral?

  • 12:38:55

    NELSONYes, sir. So, the comparison horse symbolizes an O6 or higher for Marine Corps or Army, because those were the two branches who used horses during the cavalry days. So, the horse symbolizes their last mission and their last ride. So, the boot facing backwards actually symbolizes all the way back to Civil War days during the war. If their Captain or whomever was in charge actually passed away then they would keep his boot on and then place it backwards, and then spook the horse. And then that would basically signify to the others that they passed away.

  • 12:39:31

    NNAMDIFascinating. The Gaelic Wife tweets: I haven't attended a funeral at Arlington but I'm a D.C.-based Honor Flight guardian. You have no idea how deeply touching the changing of the guard and the floral presentation with Taps is to these veterans. And I guess that's one of the reasons it is done. Sgt. Branagan, how many missions will the ceremonial band complete in a typical day?

  • 12:39:54

    BRANAGANWell, sir, the Army Band is equipped from a staffing standpoint to support four full -- sorry, four funeral honors with escort per day plus an additional six to ten funeral honors with a single bugler, so anywhere between 10 to, on a very busy day, 14 military funerals. That happens five days a week every week of the year. And all told over the last three to four years we've been averaging about 1,700 of these military funerals per year.

  • 12:40:24

    BRANAGANAnd I think while that number is quite large, I think one of the things that our organization does exceptionally well is, as Sgt. Doctor mentioned earlier, that, you know, this may be the sixth or seventh funeral you're performing in a week. But for that family that's there, it is a seminal moment, and, as we've heard from the callers, moments that are profoundly meaningful for them and stay with them, potentially, for a lifetime.

  • 12:40:51

    BRANAGANAnd so, regardless of the conditions, if it's -- you know, it's a beautiful fall day here in D.C. and it's easy to play the ceremony on a day like today. But when it's 35 degrees and raining sideways, we still approach that from the aspect of these missions, as we call them, being no-fail missions, where it's our job to execute all of these funeral ceremonies to the highest standard, both from a performer's perspective and from the perspective of The Old Guard to make sure that each component of the ceremony is performed with excellence, and is our way of remembering the service for that fallen service member.

  • 12:41:27

    NNAMDILt. Becker, when the casket is transferred from each point a group of soldiers is tasked with carrying it to the next location. How are soldiers picked for the casket team, and what are some of the challenges they face?

  • 12:41:39

    BECKERSo, like I described earlier, these soldiers come out of basic training as infantrymen and then get assigned to a platoon. So, these casket team members are assigned to a casket platoon, it's a group of about 40 guys. And so out of those 40, guys try out for positions. So, there's casket team leader, which is the most experienced guy on the team. There's a catch position, throw, fold, present and drag man. So, all these positions are practiced. People try out for these positions and almost kind of challenge each other to get better at the position.

  • 12:42:13

    BECKERAnd all these members of the team provide a certain portion of the flag fold and the present to the OIC, who is the one who hands off the flag to next of kin. So, it's a long training process and they're continually getting better, always.

  • 12:42:29

    NNAMDIThe soldiers who are selected for the Salute Battery, what's the most difficult part of that job?

  • 12:42:36

    BECKERThe most difficult job I kind of eluded to earlier is coming out of basic training, you think you've learned all your basic skills, and you get to The Old Guard, and you have to learn a whole new set of basic skills with marching, acting ceremonially, having ceremonial composure, so you're not smiling or smirking or wincing during a ceremony. And then being able to fire all these rounds with such precision. We have watchmen who have analog watches that tell our loaders and gunners when to fire. And these rounds are fired with extreme precision. And we're expected to keep that standard.

  • 12:43:18

    NNAMDIOn to the phones. Here now is Rodger, in Washington. Rodger, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:43:23

    RODGERThank you. Good afternoon. My father's buried in Arlington, as is my father-in-law and mother-in-law. My father died about 20 years ago, and my in-laws about four years ago. And the service took place shortly after the burial. My mother died two months ago, and is due to be buried in Arlington. And they told us it would be about a 10-month wait. They said that there's about 70 requests a day for burial, and that Arlington can only handle about 35. So, there's a backlog of about 10 months. And it would look like that would be extended. Is there anything being done to address the backlog and hire additional staff for burial services?

  • 12:44:10

    BRANAGANSo, you know, our jobs as military service members responsible for the ceremonial aspect of these events, we're not really involved in the administrative side of that thing. Your story is consistent with stories that I've heard. In fact, my father's buried in a national cemetery at Fort Same Houston in San Antonio, Texas, and it was about three months in between the time that he passed to when we had his internment. So, I do know that there are -- in credit to the Arlington Cemetery staff, because they manage not just the -- you know, I mentioned 1,700 funerals in a year, that's just for the Army. So, the Marines and the Air Force and the Navy are also providing services for fallen service members at the same time.

  • 12:44:49

    NNAMDIAnd that's what Nan in Virginia would like to talk about. Nan, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:44:53

    NANHi, and I'm so glad that you're doing this program. It's really cool. I am a retired member of the United States Marine Band, and I'm not sure exactly how many funerals that I did, but I know people in about my length of service that have done, you know, about 300, 350 funerals. So, you know, it's really neat to be a part of it. And, also, like your guests mentioned, all the services -- there are four premier bands in the D.C. area. And we all do funerals of officers, or enlisted, they get a bugler. So, just kind of wanted to pass that on, and it was really one of my favorite parts of the job, because it's really neat to feel like you're, you know, really making a difference in someone's family, you know, in helping them say goodbye.

  • 12:45:53

    NNAMDIThank you very much for sharing that with us, Nan. Specialist Nelson, how physically demanding is it to ride the horses?

  • 12:46:01

    NELSONYes, sir. So, it is high -- I would say kind of a high pain tolerance, in a way, because you have to have, you know -- so what we ride is called the postilion style of riding. So, you have your near horse and then you have your off horse, which is to your right. So, you're in control of both horses, so your back has to be completely straight up out of the saddle. And your hands, you know, have to be up, and then your other right hand has to be, you know, to control the other horse. And your knees also have to be bent. So, it puts pressure on your knees and on your back as well. So, you have to be really in physical good shape.

  • 12:46:37

    NNAMDII guess so. (laugh) Here is Rick in Rockville, Maryland. Rick, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:46:44

    RICKHi, Kojo and hello to your distinguished guests. We lost our nephew in the Iraq War in 2007. He is in Section 60 of Arlington. We had a large family there. There was some disagreement politically in the family over the state of the war and this kind of thing, as you all can remember from your recent history. I must say the funeral at Arlington National Cemetery was -- it was just out of this world. There was not one sense of the politic involved in it. It was solemn. It was executed to absolute perfection. It was meaningful.

  • 12:47:38

    RICKAnd I will always, always have a sense of debt to our armed forces, but particularly the Army, and particularly The Old Guard regiment for doing the job that they do several times a day every week, every year.

  • 12:47:56

    NNAMDIThank you very much, Rick. Sgt. Branagan, you have observed a funeral from both sides. You are a member of the ceremonial band, but your father received a military funeral a few years ago. Did that experience give you a different perspective on your job?

  • 12:48:10

    BRANAGANAbsolutely. Obviously, it was emotional for me. My father was a 20-year veteran of the Air Force. He was also Master Sgt. Branagan. And then he went on to serve for 20 years in civil service to the Army at Fort Sam Houston, as I mentioned, where he's buried.

  • 12:48:26

    BRANAGANYou know, I spent the first five years of my Army career as a performer in the ceremonial element of The Pershing's Own. And similar to our caller from the Marine Band, I estimate that in that time, you know, that was my full time job as playing these ceremonies for five years. And I probably played well north of 500 of these funerals in that time.

  • 12:48:45

    BRANAGANBut seeing it from the family side obviously gave me a substantially more profound perspective. And, you know, in speaking with your producers about the story, I got all emotional. So, I apologize of that. I try to comport myself when we're on the air.

  • 12:48:57

    NNAMDIWe expect that.

  • 12:48:59

    BRANAGANI gathered. But seeing it from -- you know, as somebody who has performed in these funerals, I knew at my dad's funeral what was going to happen, the mechanics of the ceremony itself, what was going to take place when. But what struck me, you know, Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery is managed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, whereas Arlington is managed by Department of the Army.

  • 12:49:18

    BRANAGANSo, it was a more simple ceremony, but, you know, the veteran group that volunteered to be the firing party and the color team, and then I had requested a bugler from Lackland Air Force Base, from their band there, to come and perform. And just seeing the care with which each of those individuals did their job, it left a profound impression on me. Just the precision and the sincerity with which I saw them doing their job had a tremendous impact on me. And it really gave me an appreciation for what my colleagues do on a daily basis for literally thousands of families every year.

  • 12:49:58

    BRANAGANYou know, these people didn't know my dad. And for South Texas, it was a cold and drizzly day in December. And I actually had the opportunity to talk to the bugler beforehand, which doesn't usually happen in Arlington. In fact, it almost never happens in Arlington, just to say thank you for being there. And his words to me were: it was my honor. And that's the approach that all of my colleagues take, excuse me on a regular basis, as we provide the service for the service members who have given so much.

  • 12:50:26

    NNAMDIObviously, this is still very emotional for you. Sgt. Doctor, you recently became a mother, and you serve as a sexual assault victim advocate in the Army. What is your advice to other soldiers trying to achieve a good work-life balance, especially when their job can be emotionally taxing? We only have about a minute left.

  • 12:50:43

    DOCTORYeah, I have a nine-month-old daughter at home. And, certainly, it takes a village to raise a child. And part of my village certainly are my colleagues in the Army Band. Everybody's very accommodating and understanding, but something I always have to do is make sure I'm spending enough time with my husband and daughter at home. It helps keep a smile on my face, always. And I just hope that I can be a really great example of a working mother for her, as my mother was for me.

  • 12:51:11

    NNAMDII'm afraid that's about all the time we have. Staff Sgt. Adrienne Doctor is a bugler with the U.S. Army Band, Pershing's Own. Thank you for joining us.

  • 12:51:19

    DOCTORIt's an honor.

  • 12:51:20

    NNAMDI1st Lieutenant Cody Becker is a platoon leader with the Presidential Salute Battery, The Old Guard. Thank you for joining us.

  • 12:51:26

    BECKERThanks for having me again.

  • 12:51:27

    NNAMDIAnd Specialist Rachel Nelson is a caisson soldier with The Old Guard. Thank you for joining us.

  • 12:51:32

    NELSONYes, sir. Thank you for having me.

  • 12:51:34

    NNAMDIAnd Master Sgt. Chris Branagan is Public Affairs Officer with the U.S. Army Band, Pershing's Own. Thank you for joining us.

  • 12:51:39

    BRANAGANThank you, sir.

  • 12:51:40

    NNAMDII'm afraid that's all the time we have. This conversation about military funerals was produced by Victoria Chamberlin. She's put a visual guide to military families on our website, kojoshow.org. You can find it there. And our update on the Nats and the World Series was produced by Julie Depenbrock.

  • 12:51:56

    NNAMDISpeaking of the Nats, we need your help for a show we're working on about the history of baseball in D.C. We'd like to know, do you remember the Senators, the Homestead Grays or the arrival of the Nats? What's your favorite memory of being a D.C. baseball fan back in the day? Tell us your story. Record a voice memo, no more than a minute, and email it to kojo@wamu.org. We'll play a selection of your responses on Monday. And tune in tomorrow at noon for the Politics Hour. Tom Sherwood and I will be sitting down with D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. Until then, thank you for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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